Bcfg2 Manual 1.1.3

What is Bcfg2?

Bcfg2 helps system administrators produce a consistent, reproducible, and verifiable description of their environment, and offers visualization and reporting tools to aid in day-to-day administrative tasks. It is the fifth generation of configuration management tools developed in the Mathematics and Computer Science Division of Argonne National Laboratory.

It is based on an operational model in which the specification can be used to validate and optionally change the state of clients, but in a feature unique to Bcfg2 the client’s response to the specification can also be used to assess the completeness of the specification. Using this feature, Bcfg2 provides an objective measure of how good a job an administrator has done in specifying the configuration of client systems. Bcfg2 is therefore built to help administrators construct an accurate, comprehensive specification.

Bcfg2 has been designed from the ground up to support gentle reconciliation between the specification and current client states. It is designed to gracefully cope with manual system modifications.

Finally, due to the rapid pace of updates on modern networks, client systems are constantly changing; if required in your environment, Bcfg2 can enable the construction of complex change management and deployment strategies.


Bcfg2 provides a declarative interface to system configuration. Its configuration specifications describe a literal configuration goal state for clients. In this architecture, the Bcfg2 client tool is responsible for determining what, if any, configuration operations must occur and then performing those operations. The client also uploads statistics and client configuration state information. The design and implementation of the reporting system is described on a separate page.

A comprehensive description of the Bcfg2 Architecture (and the choices behind the design) can be found at Detailed Bcfg2 Architecture.


The role of the Bcfg2 server is rendering a client-specific target configuration description from a global specification. The specification consists of a directory structure containing data for a variety of server plugins. The Bcfg2 server has a plugin interface that can be used to interpret the configuration specification.


The Bcfg2 client is responsible for determining what operations are necessary in order to reach the desired configuration state. Read on for more information about The Bcfg2 Client.

What Operating Systems Does Bcfg2 Support?

Bcfg2 is fairly portable. It has been successfully run on:

Bcfg2 should run on any POSIX compatible operating system, however direct support for an operating system’s package and service formats are limited by the currently available Client Tool Drivers (new client tools are pretty easy to add). Check the FAQ for a more exact list of platforms on which Bcfg2 works.

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